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Avery Bradley will heal fully, ‘possibly’ available in Round 2, Brad Stevens considering lineup change 04.21.16 at 2:12 pm ET
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Avery Bradley drives to the basket against Hawks forward Paul Millsap (4) in Game 1. (John David Mercer/USA Today Sports)

Avery Bradley drives to the basket against Hawks forward Paul Millsap (4) in Game 1. (John David Mercer/USA Today Sports)

WALTHAM  –  The tale of these Celtics could be told by the end of Game 3. And Brad Stevens knows it. 

Without Kelly Olynyk (right shoulder) and Avery Bradley (right hamstring), the Celtics held a media session Thursday at their practice facility, then held a team meeting and then a relatively light practice. Before heading off to their bunker before practice, the Celtics coach broke down what’s at stake in the hours leading up to Friday night’s virtual do-or-die game. 

 

“From a physical standpoint I think we need to have a solid day but we’re not going to be out here very long,” Stevens said. “It’s going to be more about what changes we need to make, what we need to do to be a little bit more successful, how we need to play, those types of things. But hey, it’s we’re deep into the season. We’ve got to do what we do better, like I said [Wednesday], and go from there.

“Kelly will be, like I said [Wednesday], questionable probably at best for the game. And then Avery obviously won’t be playing, so the guys that are out here are the guys that we’ll prepare with.”

Bradley did have his MRI and Stevens indicated that surgery will not be needed, just time to heal. 

“Nothing that we didn’t think. So I think big picture, long term, he’s going to be able to heal fully,” Stevens said. “It will all be good and everything else. It just takes time with hamstrings. And so like I said earlier he’s definitely out this weekend, and then I would say he’s very unlikely to play in this series again. The hamstring’s one of those things where you can walk down the hallway and look like a million bucks, but when you start playing 32 minutes and have to change speeds and change directions and those type of things, that’s a different story.”

As for the likelihood Bradley would be available for the next round?

“That would be something that we haven’t discussed a whole lot just because they’ve talked about toward the end of this series he should be to the point where he’s able to do a little bit more from a practice standpoint and those type of things,” Stevens said. “So, I would say that it’s still unlikely early in that situation, but possibly in the days that go on after that.”

Stevens indicated another lineup change is in store for Game 3. Stevens had his regular group of Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger, Jae Crowder and Amir Johnson for Game 1. Then Marcus Smart replaced Bradley in Game 2. Evan Turner replaced Sullinger to start the second half Tuesday night. That could be sign of things to come but Stevens said he hadn’t made up his mind yet.  

“In Game 1 it wasn’t as much execution as shot-making,” Stevens said. “And then in Game 2, I thought Game 2 was a much different game overall. So from my standpoint, we look at Game 1, we look at Game 2, we look at the things we can do well, and we need to do them as well as we can for those 48 minutes that are coming up. But I think at the end of the day, we’ve defended how we’ve wanted to more often than not.

“And offensively we’ve got to be better. Especially, again, you can’t dig yourself that big of a hole early because then that puts pressure on you to make the next one and the next one and the next one. We’re going to have to have guys that are not only in the right spots and executing the right ways, but also then finishing plays. And these guys have responded to that all year. So we’ve had our down moments. We’ve had our down quarters in games. And we’re looking forward to tomorrow night.”

Read More: 2016 NBA playoffs, Atlanta Hawks, Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics
Brad Stevens says Kelly Olynyk ‘questionable’ for Game 3, Avery Bradley hints at return 04.20.16 at 3:55 pm ET
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Kelly Olynyk

Kelly Olynyk

Kelly Olynyk and his right shoulder remain a big question mark heading into Game 3 Friday night against Atlanta. 

Celtics coach Brad Stevens said during a conference call Wednesday that after meeting with head trainer Ed Lacerte, it’s questionable at this point whether the 7-footer would be able to dress up and play Friday. 

“I’d say it’d be questionable based on my conversations with Ed Lacerte today,” Stevens said. 

Olynyk re-injured the shoulder in Game 1 last Saturday and didn’t dress for Game 2 Tuesday night. Olynyk missed 12 games when he initially injured the shoulder on Feb. 10 against the Clippers at TD Garden. 

As for the injured backcourt duo of Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart, Stevens said Bradley had an MRI on Wednesday but hadn’t heard the results yet. Stevens repeated in his Wednesday conference call that Bradley would be out of games “this weekend” and “very likely” for the rest of the series. 

Bradley did tell Celtics TV broadcaster Mike Gorman that there’s a chance he could return by the end of the series. Gorman, appearing on the Celtics radio flagship station, repeated a conversation he had with Bradley on Tuesday. 

“I asked if he would play again,” Gorman said, “and he said he was hoping he could play next week. He said, ‘If we can extend this series, I’m hoping I can play again.'”

“He underwent his MRI. I have not gotten the answer about how that went,” Stevens said during the conference call. “I don’t know if they’ve looked at it yet, or not. Obviously, with Kelly kind of being questionable for Game 3 and Marcus [having] bruised ribs, as far as getting immediate results, that’s who I’ve talked to Eddie about. Avery is going to be out this weekend, and like I said, is very unlikely for the rest of the series.”

As for Marcus Smart, he took a knee from Kent Bazemore above the right hip and at the bottom of his rib cage in the first 30 seconds of Tuesday night’s game when Bazemore drove baseline.

The prognosis is good for Smart, so good that Stevens expects Smart to be able to participate in practice on Thursday in Waltham.  Stevens didn’t even mention Jae Crowder, who is still battling a sore right ankle from his high ankle sprain in March, or Isaiah Thomas and his dinged left wrist. 

“I feel bad for those guys because this is the time of the year where everybody wants to be healthy, everybody wants to play, everybody wants to get their crack at it,” Stevens added. “So, I feel bad for those guys. As far as for me, we’re going to do the very best with the guys that are available. We have a lot of good players in this room that have a done a lot of good things throughout the year. We’re going to need to play everybody that’s available to be playing at their best this weekend to give ourselves a chance in this.”

The Hawks didn’t escape the injury bug Tuesday as Dennis Schroder badly twisted his left ankle on a drive to the basket late in the fourth quarter. He had to be helped to the Hawks locker room. He was replaced by Kirk Hinrich, who would likely take his place on the Hawks bench if Schroder is severely limited or can’t go in Game 3. 

Read More: 2016 NBA playoffs, Atlanta Hawks, Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics
Studs and Duds: Historically bad start sets table for another Celtics playoff loss, 0-2 hole 04.19.16 at 9:27 pm ET
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Hawks center Al Horford (15) grabs a pass against against Marcus Smart (36) in the first quarter Tuesday at Philips Arena. (Jason Getz-USA Today Sports)

Hawks center Al Horford grabs a pass over Marcus Smart in the first quarter Tuesday at Philips Arena. (Jason Getz/USA Today Sports)

Talk about adding insult to injury. 

The Celtics were embarrassed Tuesday night in epic fashion, falling behind by 21 points in the first six minutes and never fully recovering in an 89-72 loss to the Hawks in Game 2 at Philips Arena. Atlanta leads the best-of-seven series 2-0 as it shifts to Boston for Game 3 on Friday night at TD Garden. 

Isaiah Thomas was ice cold at the start but finished strong and led Boston with 16 points while Amir Johnson added 14. The trio of Thomas (4-for-15), Marcus Smart (1-for-11) and Jae Crowder (1-for-8) combined to shoot just 6-for-34.

The Celtics were down by double digits for the final 44 minutes, 57 seconds, and finished just 5-for-28 from 3-point range as they desperately tried to get back in the game. 

Al Horford and Kyle Korver each scored 17 for the Hawks, who are two wins away from their first playoff series win over the Celtics since the 1958 NBA Finals, when the franchise was still in St. Louis. 

Already down Avery Bradley and Kelly Olynyk, the Celtics lost Smart briefly in the first 15 seconds when Kent Bazemore went up for a layup and kneed Smart in the right hip. 

Smart, who started in place of Bradley, would play just six minutes in the opening quarter before leaving with Dr. Brian McKeon. He was evaluated with a hip contusion and cleared to return. In his place, Terry Rozier and R.J. Hunter struggled to help Thomas get the offense going. 

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Read More: 2016 NBA playoffs, Atlanta Hawks, Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics
Kelly Olynyk dealing with ‘pain, discomfort’ heading into Game 2, Jae Crowder ‘not 100’ percent 04.18.16 at 4:16 pm ET
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Hawks forward Paul Millsap (4) drives to the basket against Boston Celtics center Kelly Olynyk (41) and forward Amir Johnson (90) during the second half in game one of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena. (John David Mercer-USA Today Sports)

Hawks forward Paul Millsap drives to the basket past Celtics forward Kelly Olynyk during the second half of Saturday’s game. (John David Mercer/USA Today Sports)

Suddenly, the Celtics’ injury woes go well beyond Avery Bradley.

There are a number of uncertainties regarding the availabilities of the Celtics heading into Game 2 in Atlanta. 

Aside from Bradley, who has been ruled out by Brad Stevens for Tuesday night, the most troubling might be the status of the C’s best 3-point shooter, Kelly Olynyk. The 7-footer re-aggravated the same (shooting) shoulder he injured on Feb. 10 against the Clippers. He missed 12 games after the All-Star break. 

Olynyk missed his second straight practice Monday and is questionable for Tuesday. 

“Got the impression he got aggravated the other day and he’s been dealing with it for a while, obviously, since the [initial] injury,” Stevens said. “So he’s going to sit out today and we’ll see about [Tuesday] night.”

If Olynyk can’t go, the Celtics would be without two of their top three perimeter shooters in Bradley and Olynyk. 

“We’ll see. Hopefully. Probably just rest it today, see how it goes,” Olynyk said. “Just sore, pain, discomfort. I’m just trying to get it back.”

Olynyk told reporters Monday at Philips Arena he doesn’t recall exactly when he injured the shoulder but believes it happened sometime during the Game 1 loss. 

“During the game you could definitely tell something wasn’t the same as it was for the start,” Olynyk said. “Hopefully just a little rest and recovery and get back out there.”

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Read More: 2016 NBA playoffs, Atlanta Hawks, Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics
Avery Bradley ‘very unlikely’ to return to series; Marcus Smart, Kelly Olynyk also banged up 04.17.16 at 2:35 pm ET
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Avery Bradley

Avery Bradley

The news on Avery Bradley does not sound promising for a return in the first-round series against the Hawks. 

Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters Sunday at the team’s practice at Georgia Tech that Bradley suffered a “pretty significant” strain of his right hamstring and is “very unlikely” to return at anytime during the rest of the series.

Bradley told Stevens during the game Saturday that he heard “a pop” but told reporters after the game that he would take every type of treatment and hold out hope of returning, if not Tuesday for Game 2 then sometime during the series. 

On Sunday, Stevens made it sound like that would likely take an act of God. 

“Certainly very unlikely Tuesday night [for Game 2],” Stevens told reporters before practice Sunday. “As of now I would say he’s out Tuesday night. Obviously he’ll continue to get treatment around the clock and go from there.”

Bradley injured his right hamstring after going up to block a shot from Hawks guard Jeff Teague with just over six minutes left in the fourth quarter Saturday night. He came down and began to race up court when he suddenly pulled up lame. 

“We’ve obviously had games without him before, and we have to have other guys step up,” Stevens continued. “I think the biggest challenge is that we’re playing small anyways. So you might have to go even deeper into that, which is OK.”

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Read More: 2016 NBA playoffs, Atlanta Hawks, Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics
Avery Bradley hears ‘a pop’ in his right hamstring, focused on getting back for Game 2 04.16.16 at 11:19 pm ET
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Avery Bradley

Avery Bradley

There will be no sympathy for the Celtics or Avery Bradley at this time of year. And the Celtics and Bradley know it.

When Bradley went up to try and block a layup from Jeff Teague with 6:42 left in the fourth quarter, something didn’t feel right. As a matter of fact, after the 102-101 Game 1 loss to the Hawks at Philips Arena on Saturday night, Bradley said it felt “weird.”

“I was trying to go up and block Teague and when I came down, I felt weird,” Bradley told reporters after. “I took a few steps and I just couldn’t walk. My main focus is just try to get treatment so I can get back as soon as possible.”

When he couldn’t put any weight on his right leg and had to be helped to the locker room, the prognosis for Game 2 did not look good. But that doesn’t mean Bradley is giving up hope, especially during the playoffs. 

“I don’t really want to talk about it that much,” Bradley said. “I just want to try to get treatment and take it day by day, and hopefully, I can be back for the next game. I’ll get treatment. If I could get treatment all night. My main focus is just trying to get back for next game.”

Bradley says he will get an MRI on Sunday and then make a determination from that. He tried to maintain a positive outlook after the game. 

“I’ll be fine, once I get some treatment,” Bradley said. “I know Ed and those guys, they’ll do a great job of trying to get me back as soon as possible. I’m not worried at all. I have faith. I know my teammates and people are praying for me, hoping I can get back as soon as possible.”

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Read More: 2016 NBA playoffs, Atlanta Hawks, Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics
Poll: Do Celtics have a chance without Avery Bradley? at 10:11 pm ET
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When Avery Bradley went down with 6:42 left in the fourth quarter Saturday night, the Celtics led the Hawks, 83-80. He grabbed his right hamstring as he made his way up the court and eventually fell to the court near midcourt as he hobbled his way off the court. He was helped to the locker room by trainer Ed Lacerte and teammate Tyler Zeller and did not return. He was ruled out with a strained right hamstring. The C’s were outscored 22-18 the rest of the way and suffered a heartbreaking 102-101 loss in Game 1 at Philips Arena. Will Marcus Smart be able to pick up the load if Bradley is lost for the series?

Do the Celtics have a chance without Avery Bradley?

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Read More: 2016 NBA playoffs, Atlanta Hawks, Avery Bradley, Boston Celtics
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